Trailer Magazine

Reaching new limits

Reaching new limits

When the time came to replace an old logging crane with a new Palfinger Epsilon, forestry business, Asher Enterprises, decided on an innovative set-up, which is the first of its kind in Australia – resulting in greater reach and lifting capacity.

Family owned and operated; Asher Enterprises is based in Caboolture on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It was established around 40 years ago by Barry Asher and specialises in log transport, harvesting and chipping. Starting with a single truck and just one harvesting crew, Barry continued to build up his customer base. His son James Asher joined the business 25 years ago, and together they have brought the business to where it is today – operating 30 trucks and a logging crane, employing nine harvesting crews, and operating a number of log yards.

The new Epsilon Q170z96 Epscab crane was delivered in June and is only the third of its kind to make its way into Australia.

Headquartered in Austria and part of the Palfinger Group, Epsilon manufactures cranes for the timber, recycling and construction industries. The system features Epsilon’s exclusive adaptive gripper tip controller. When products are lifted off the ground, the gripper also raises automatically so it doesn’t hit the ground while closing, thus preventing potential damage to the ground or truck loading surface.

“Our old crane was getting of age, so we had to decide whether we wanted to replace it or get rid of it. The issue we had was that we couldn’t carry much weight due to the way the crane was set up. So, we decided to set the Epsilon crane up onto a B-double so we could achieve higher payloads,” explains James.

Operating under Concessional Mass Limits (CML), which are set at five per cent higher than General Mass Limits (GML), the 19-metre B-double can still access the same routes. In Asher Enterprises’ case, James says the new combination can carry up to 33 tonnes. As the previous crane truck could only carry 23 tonnes, this new set-up has provided enhanced flexibility and productivity. In addition to achieving greater payloads through CML, the business is also achieving greater lifting capacities too, with the crane able to lift an additional six tonnes. In the current set up, the Epsilon Q170z96 can lift up to 1,670kg at 9.6 metres.

The crane has been fitted to trailers manufactured by Kennedy Trailers, which worked closely with James to engineer a B-double solution that not only met his needs, but also ensured maximum payload capabilities – carrying both the Epsilon crane and a full load of logs. By widening the bogie, so that the crane sat on the centre of the axles and the landing legs could still be lowered without any interference, this innovative set-up came to fruition. Now, James says, the unit is achieving productivity gains of more than 20 per cent. While the business was previously struggling to keep up with the constant stream of orders, the B-double and Epsilon crane have enabled Asher Enterprises to keep up with customer demand.

Along with the gains in productivity that have been achieved, the design of Epsilon’s enclosed cabin was another key selling point, serving to enhance operator safety. “Our previous crane was old fashioned – the operator sat on the seat with no guarding. In the world we are in now, the old one didn’t meet our safety standards and we knew we needed to make a major change.”

Featuring a completely enclosed, air-conditioned cabin, the Epsilon crane ensures the operator is always kept out of harm’s way – providing protection from exposure to logs and protecting the operator from the heat and sun during the hot summer days. “That makes a big difference for operator comfort, especially on a 40-degree day, making it much easier for them to focus on the task at hand,” adds James.

“The Epsilon provides good stability through its hydraulic legs. It’s a very solid crane. The crane cabin is also hydraulically operated so it can be placed in a lower position for the operator to climb in, and then raised during loading.”

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